yacht racing Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

TBS partners with the MOD70 circuit and the Multi One Attitude Foundation

April 20, 2012

Multi One Design SA, promoter of the MOD70 circuit, together with the Multi One Attitude Foundation as well as TBS are all pleased to reveal their fascinating new eco-friendly and ethically committed collaboration, which has been signed to span the next two years from 2012-2014. Top clothing and footwear brand TBS have signed an agreement to create and distribute three eco designed exclusive themed collections.

TBS partners with the MOD70 circuit and the Multi One Attitude Foundation

TBS partners with the MOD70 circuit and the Multi One Attitude Foundation

Three ‘responsible’ collections:

The TBS for MULTI ONE CHAMPIONSHIP collection will equip the organization and will encompass a line of products dedicated to the various events on the circuit comprising KRYS OCEAN RACE, the MOD70 European Tour and the Ocean World Tour. These clothes will be also be sold in keynote positions in the race villages at Multi One Championship events and via internet.

The TBS for RACE FOR WATER by the Multi One Attitude Foundation collection will be distributed on the racing circuit, but also particulary in dedicated areas within TBS stores through its sales network and on the internet. Profits from the sale of this collection will be used to develop outreach initiatives, education and act on two main aims of the Foundation, namely preservation of the ocean by countering plastics pollution, and freshwater preservation by optimising water resources management.

And the lifestyle collection, directly drawn from these two collections, will also be designed and delivered by TBS.

The Living Sea: a philosophy applied to products today

For over 30 years, the core values that have underpinned the TBS brand have remained the same: to maintain a high level of quality, performance and technical specification, all embodied by original designs. All TBS footwear and apparel collections are researched, designed and developed in line with these fundamental values. The brand will complement the Foundation’s work and image seeking to develop products and production methods that are more sustainable and further enhance their commitments to ethical and environmental values. With the three collections, TBS is committed to working in eco-friendly, creative and innovative ways to reduce their environmental impact.

Through this approach, TBS wants to highlight more than ever it’s affinity for the Ocean and sailing world. The strap line “Living Sea”, now takes on an even more relevant meaning.

More than branded product lines, an eco friendly collaboration.

Eric Lairet, Director General of the brand TBS: “It’s an incredibly natural alliance! For over 30 years the history of TBS has been written around the nautical world. We have also been fortunate to be joined by the most renowned skippers … And even today! TBS’ endorsement continues with Michel Desjoyeaux. More than signature “products”, this partnership demonstrates our willingness to take on, across our operations, the major environmental challenges that are ocean conservation and the fight to reduce water footprint. We know that we can all make more efforts in this area! TBS is committed through the creation of eco-designed lines. TBS absolute dream for the future? To become a recognised ‘blue’ brand.”

Anne-Cecile Turner, Director of the Multi One Attitude Foundation: “The Multi One Attitude Foundation , that uses sailing to bring people together to protect water, is an ideal partner for TBS. The brand will build on the  Foundation’s work and  image to develop products and production methods that are environmentally sustainable. The profits from the sale of the collection RACE FOR WATER will be used to develop initiatives, education and action around two major water challenges: ocean plastic pollution and water footprint reduction.”

Franck David, Executive Director of Multi One Design: “We are very proud to join the Multi One Championship with TBS whose history is so strongly linked to sailing. Pioneers in many fields, TBS has always led the way for 30 years, partnering with so many renowned sailors. To have at our side, a dynamic brand that is focused on international development and who understands and shares our values, means that we can only go forward together!”

2nd Rolex Volcano Race, May 19-25, 2012

April 20, 2012

The second edition of the Rolex Volcano Race taking place from May 19 to 25, 2012 in the Tyrrhenian Sea is supposed to welcome twenty-two Maxi yachts measuring more than 18.29m/60ft in length. This popular race marks the start of Rolex’s fascinating Mediterranean yachting season.

Swan 90 sailing yacht DSK PIONEER INVESTMENTS

Swan 90 sailing yacht DSK PIONEER INVESTMENTS Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

In contrast to last year’s inaugural event when one race took place, three segments will be contested, commencing in the form of a day’s inshore racing on Saturday 19 May in Gaeta, a seaport on the Italian mainland located approximately halfway between Rome and Naples. During the second segment, beginning on Sunday 20 May, the fleet tackle Leg One of the 400-nautical mile offshore race, a 100-nautical mile voyage from Gaeta to Capri through the Pontine Islands. On arriving in Capri, the fleet will berth on the island for the night of Monday 21 May before attacking the most arduous segment of the week the following day. A 300-nautical mile adventure around the volcanic, UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands awaits. The overall winner of this last section will take the plaudits at the finish line back in Capri, receiving the coveted Rolex Trophy and timepiece during the traditional Rolex party at the iconic La Canzone del Mare.

18.57m WILD JOE yacht

18.57m WILD JOE yacht Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

An intriguing contest is ahead. Of the 22 registered entrants, 11 different nationalities are represented. The bulk of the fleet is formed of Mini Maxi yachts measuring 18.29-24.08 metres in length. Nine of the 13 crews that took part in last year’s inaugural race have committed to return: the rise in the size of the fleet and high volume of returning crews proves the race is an enticing prospect.

Of the larger yachts, Filip Balcaen’s 112ft sailing yacht Nilaya (BEL), launched last year, will be amongst the most eye-catching craft. With experienced tactician Bouwe Bekking calling the shots the crew impressed in winning the Supermaxi class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 2011. Close competition is guaranteed in the shape of Claus-Peter Offen’s 100ft Wally superyacht Y3K (GER), winner of its category for three straight years at the same event, in the hands of a honed and savvy crew who have enjoyed sustained success for over a decade.

18m luxury yacht GRANDE ORAZIO

18m luxury yacht GRANDE ORAZIO Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Not only is Offen owner and skipper of the luxury yacht Y3K, he also acts as President of the International Maxi Association (IMA), the event organisers, and is therefore particularly enthusiastic about the event. “In terms of the environment, the race course takes us to one of the most enthralling sailing areas in the world,” he explains. “We are all looking forward to this event and finishing in Capri will be very exciting.”

“Wherever we are competing in the Mediterranean there is tremendous competition. The Rolex Volcano Race will be no exception,” continues Offen. “I expect rather light to moderate winds. Under these conditions tactical decisions will play an important role – as will a little bit of luck. This race takes us through the night with tricky, thermal wind conditions resulting from the changing land and sea breezes. A big lead can turn into a big loss in no time. You have to be cool and patient.”

RP Custom 60 yacht WILD JOE

RP Custom 60 yacht WILD JOE Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

As is form at an IMA event, there will be a significant presence of Swan yachts. Six are set to feature. One of these is returning entrant, Danilo Salsi’s DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA), the consistent sailing yacht Swan 90 and another class winner at last year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, and sure to benefit from the experience of the 2011 race when she was the closest rival to eventual winners Alegre (GBR). The array of international crews also features Armeigin 3 (POR), Arobas (FRA), Bronenosec (RUS), Caol Ila (USA), E1 (AUT), Jethou (GBR), Vertical Smile (DEN) and Wild Joe (HUN). Twelve Italian crews complete the roster including Ernesto Gismondi’s Wally 65 Edimetra yacht, a regular on the Rolex sailing circuit, and Marco Rodolfi’s elegant Swan 80 yacht Berenice Bis featuring a crew that performed both at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2011.

Swan 60 yacht VERTICAL SMILE

Swan 60 yacht VERTICAL SMILE Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

A fascinating contest is in store, comprising a finely-matched, balanced fleet with navigators and tacticians – including former America’s Cup sailors of the calibre of Brad Butterworth, Tommaso Chieffi and Tiziano Nava – currently preparing in earnest for the various meteorological challenges that await them when negotiating Europe’s most volcanic region.

Reflections on Naples AC World Series

April 20, 2012

With the AC World Series in Naples just finished and the next race in Venice starting in a month, this period gives a good possibility to take a breath and reflect on what happened during the past week.

AC fans gathered to greet their heroes

AC fans gathered to greet their heroes - Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget

Quite simply, the AC World Series hit a new level in Naples. On and off the water.

On the water, the racing was phenomenal. There were nine crews competing, the same as in the first three events, but the addition of the two Luna Rossa crews raised the competitive bar considerably. Clearly, Chris Draper and his Luna Rossa Piranha team, despite protestations to the contrary, arrived in Naples ready to challenge the series leaders. With a win in the Fleet Racing Championship and a second place finish behind Artemis Racing in the Match Racing, the new Italian team served notice there’s another crew to be reckoned with at the top.

“We thought before the event if we gave ourselves the opportunities, we could go well,” Draper said. “But we honestly didn’t have huge expectations, so to come away with a first and a second is awesome… The AC World Series is a really useful stepping stone for us, we see it as something very useful and we look forward to taking these lessons into the AC72.”

It was a win in the high-scoring final race on Sunday that assured Draper of the overall victory, but he didn’t come out of nowhere to steal the championship. Piranha entered the final race sitting in third place, with a string of solid finishes in the first six races. Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand started Sunday with a solid, but not insurmountable lead, built off four wins in the first six races. But a seventh place in race five left the Kiwis vulnerable and after getting locked out at the starting line in the final race, and pushed back into the second row, the Kiwis could only watch as their hard work over the week came to naught.

Draper was denied ‘the double’ as ORACLE Racing’s Jimmy Spithill calls the feat of winning the Match and Fleet Racing, by Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing, who finished the week tremendously, after starting it horrifically. First, the start. In strong conditions on the first day of racing, Artemis capsized and severely damaged their wing sail. Hutchinson, understandably, was distraught when he came ashore, but determined to be ready for racing the next day.

Following an all night session by the Artemis shore crew, the team was ready to go again the next day, but scoring no points on the first day put the team at the bottom of the seedings for the match racing, No matter. Artemis dispatched China Team on Thursday, before knocking off Emirates Team New Zealand on Friday to advance to the semi final. A win over the Swordfish team put Hutchinson into the Match Racing Final, where he dispatched the second Luna Rossa crew. Four consecutive sudden-death match wins made Artemis Racing an undisputedly worthy Match Racing Champion.

“We faced four really formidable teams all the way through this,” Hutchinson said after securing the title, making special note of an improving China Team, his first victim. “On Wednesday (after that capsize) if you you had told me that we’d be standing here having won the match racing part of the regatta, we would have taken it. I think I probably hate losing a lot more than I like winning, so it’s nice to be smiling on Sunday.”

This was the best Match Racing finish for Hutchinson and his team, who had been steady, if unspectacular, in scoring 3-3-4 over the previous three AC World Series events. That has changed. The win, combined with poor results by ORACLE Racing Spithill (7th) and Emirates Team New Zealand (who Artemis defeated to knock into 8th place) vaults the Swedish team to the top of the overall Match Racing leaderboard.

If the competition on the water was at an all-time high, off the water, Naples was a mind-blowing experience. The crowds were like nothing previously seen at an AC World Series event (or indeed, other sailing events). Organizers estimated crowds of over 500,000 through the Race Village over the course of the event (and more than double that along the extended waterfront), including a massive turnout on the holiday Easter Monday and again on the final Sunday. Despite the rain, the huge interest meant the sailors were living the full rock-star experience, mobbed anytime they walked through the Race Village wearing team gear.

ORACLE Racing skipper Jimmy Spithill, popular in Italy after a previous stint with Luna Rossa summed it up well: “It’s just incredible, the people are so into their sport and their sailing teams. I can’t wait for Venice, I think it’s going to be fantastic.”

Venice is the penultimate event of the 2011-12 AC World Series and on the overall Series leaderboard, which combines results in the Fleet and Match Racing Championships from each event, ORACLE Racing Spithill has now overhauled the Kiwis to lead by just one point, with Artemis Racing closing in from third place. Behind, just one point separates Energy Team, Team Korea and ORACLE Racing Bundock.

It will be the same talented nine crews from Naples racing in Venice. Green Comm Racing, who had previously advised organisers it would not sail in Naples, has now withdrawn its challenge for the 34th America’s Cup and will not participate again in the America’s Cup World Series.

2011-12 America’s Cup World Series Championship – Leaderboard

1    ORACLE Racing – Spithill…67 points
2    Emirates Team New Zealand…66
3    Artemis Racing…54
4    Energy Team…48
5    ORACLE Racing – Bundock…47
5    Team Korea…47
7    China Team…26
8    Luna Rossa – Piranha…19
9    Luna Rossa – Swordfish…12

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race: Day 6 – The Scoring Gate almost reached

April 19, 2012

Reaching the Scoring Gate, the Clipper 11-12 Race yachts are tightly packed, promising some exciting competing. The more westerly yachts are closest to the western end of the gate with less than 100 miles to pass and, assuming the wind holds up, should be able to achieve it within the next 24 hours.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit Abner KingmanonEdition

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

However it is not a compulsory mark of the course and some teams may decide to forego the temptation of the additional points on offer in favour of staying in the narrow corridor of wind to speed them on their way to greater riches at the finish line.

For two of the teams, devastating spinnaker wraps have blighted their race in the last 24 hours.

Flavio Zamboni, skipper of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, describes how he and his team dealt with the situation on board.

“Yesterday evening, just after sunset, we had another wrap in the medium weight spinnaker which required all night to get sorted.

“The first attempt at sorting it out was, as usual, sailing the boat on the opposite gybe to reverse the air circulation behind the main. We hadn’t realised, though, that the spinnaker was not just wrapped around itself and both stays but it was, in fact, snugged underneath the point where the inner forestay attaches to the mast. That was preventing the spinnaker itself from moving freely and getting unwrapped.

“Unfortunately, while sailing on the opposite gybe we crashed gybed twice and on one occasion the central winch in the snake pit must have got caught by the vang, resulting in the drum being ripped off its base.

“The second attempt was going up the rig to release the head and on the outboard end of the pole to release the tack, hoping that that would allow the kite to spin more freely.

“That was not the case so the third attempt was to go back up to untwist it manually, turn by turn. I was up the rig for hours wrestling the bloody thing trying to get it undone. For the best part of that time it looked like I was winning until I got to a point where the kite was so tightly wrapped I really wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing to get it undone.

“I got to the stage I couldn’t think straight any more, was drenched in sweat and getting cold and was starting to suffer from cramps, too. So I asked the guys to take me down to have a bit of a break and plan the next move.

“I thought that, because of the way the kite was hanging from the forestay, securing a line to its head to retrieve it and one loose and working the twists from the bottom could possibly work. When the on watch crew sent me up the mast for the third time at first light I was not looking forward to it, I must confess. Good news was about to come, though. In fact, as I reached the top of the wrap and started hauling in the head to secure it to a line fed from the deck the whole thing just fell off along the forestay! As soon as that happened the guys were all over it, steering the boat to avoid running it over and retrieving it from the water, virtually undamaged!

“When they lowered me down on deck it was all happening to get the boat fully powered up again and start chasing the rest of the fleet. Last night’s crew effort and attitude was outstanding and, after recovering from such a difficult situation, morale on board is higher than ever.”

Singapore’s crew can take heart from Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s recovery… they too are battling their own spinnaker demons.

“As I type we currently have two crew members up the rig trying to sort out a monster kite wrap,” Ben Bowley tells the Race Office this morning. “I can’t begin to explain my frustration at what is costing us nearly three miles per hour on our competitors. The wrap has been in for at least an hour now and at the rate things are going we shall be lucky to have the kite down by dawn. Our dream sail has turned into a messy nightmare of twisted sails, halyards and rigging. I can’t type for long as my first priority is to get this sail sorted before it causes yet more damage. Wish us luck.”

So far the team has not suffered too badly, still in fifth place, but they will need to ensure the situation is remedied quickly to avoid further losses.

In addition to the spinnaker wraps, today has seen something of a shake up in fleet positions. As they approach the dog leg in the course the distances to finish (DTF) are calculated via a waypoint off Cabo Frio at the southern end of the Baja California peninsula to avoid DTF being calculated in a straight line across land.

“Two yachts in particular have shown bold moves,” notes Welcome to Yorkshire’s skipper, Rupert Dean. “In contrast to the majority of the fleet on port gybe, De Lage Landen has run for some time on starboard, transforming her position as most easterly boat in the fleet to being central and west of us. Sailing the other direction is Gold Coast Australia which has hardened up on port and headed radically inshore to occupy De Lage Landen’s former outpost. It’s anyone’s guess as to what is going on in Richard Hewson’s canny mind at present. Perhaps he intends to play the land sea breezes closer inshore. As with all of us, he will be weighing up the risks of positioning for points at the short term Scoring Gate, against those from the longer term race result.

“As the yachts jostle for position in the approaches to the Scoring Gate, playing their ‘chess moves’ one by one, the fleet is starting to compress, which will make for very exciting racing indeed. Certainly on Welcome to Yorkshire the sense of urgency is palpable and the crew have been trimming like mad to get every available fraction of a knot out of the light winds around us. Isn’t that what’s racing all about?”

Richard sheds some light on his team’s decision to head inshore, although is keeping quiet about whether they will make an assault on the Scoring Gate or bypass it altogether.

He says, “Gold Coast Australia began the day with good wind from the north west that gradually eased throughout the day. The tactical decision was made to head closer into the coast in search of wind and as we sailed higher angles to the rest of the fleet we were making good speed to the east.

“We passed 13nm astern of De Lage Landen around midday and continued to the east while De Lage Landen sailed to the south towards the Scoring Gate. While the wind has not backed as I was hoping it would, we now have good winds to take us down the coast and hopefully the fruits of our tactics will ripen over the next few days.”

“The fleet is still very tight and nearly everybody in VHF range. This is possibly the closest race of the series so far and everybody is sailing extremely well in the beautiful sailing conditions,” he adds.

Geraldton Western Australia has now assumed the lead, just a mile ahead of De Lage Landen, their focus on keeping the boat moving as fast as possible paying off as they make their run for the gate.

“The same patterns have been appearing over and over again,” says Juan Coetzer. “However the wind is going to die off eventually. Another day, another kite peel and a gybe. The crew are getting to grips with these complex evolutions, and doing them well. We have made up some good ground by sticking away from the island. At the moment it seems to be a big sprint for the Scoring Gate and the boat that keeps moving will be the one to reap the rewards.”

Stuart Jackson explains how the De Lage Landen crew have been able to maintain their position as one of the front runners in the decreasing wind.

“The race to the gate is hotting up with all the fleet closing in rapidly, so only time will tell whose tactics will pay off for the sought after points. Unfortunately this evening the breeze has died off significantly and we are having to sail angles closer to the wind to keep any reasonable boat speed. It looks like we are in for a few days of light winds now so even greater concentration is going to be needed to keep the boat moving.”

“Today has been much more productive from a sailing point of view and we have had much good use out of our lightweight spinnaker,” reports the man in charge of Visit Finland, Olly Osborne. “The breeze has been pretty consistent and everyone is working really hard to get the most out of the small amount of gradient wind.”

The Finnish team has recovered from their own spinnaker problems earlier in the race to begin moving up through the rankings again. And Qingdao has also benefitted from their westerly position in the ten-strong fleet racing towards Panama.

“Our tactic of staying offshore before gybing in seems to have started to pay dividends as we have moved back up the leader board but, with the fleet so close, it could all easily change as we see the various different plans unfold,” comments skipper, Ian Conchie. “For the moment we feel we are well placed to keep pushing on to try and achieve a good result but the wind can be a fickle master. We just sailed through a very light patch and try as we could we couldn’t match the speed that Singapore held for the same time which serves as a warning for us.

“All eyes are on the Scoring Gate now as everyone wants the extra points but has to decide if it is tactically worth it or better to focus on overall race strategy.”

That’s the thinking on board New York where skipper, Gareth Glover, admits his team is unlikely to make it to the Scoring Gate in the top three so their attention is on the bigger picture.

“We have been racing under the same kite all day with Visit Finland just a few miles away. The focus has been on helming and trimming which the crew have been at non-stop all day, trying to work fractions of a knot from New York, trying to keep Visit Finland at bay and catch up the front runners before the Scoring Gate.

“There is only 140nm to the western end of the gate from our position at this time and it looks like we will not get there in the top three from where we are so we are now looking past the gate and putting ourselves in a better place for when the wind goes lighter still.”

“There is some great racing going on out here!” according to Derry-Londonderry skipper, Mark Light. The team representing the UK City of Culture 2013 went into Stealth Mode at 1800 yesterday and will reappear on the Race Viewer at 1800 UTC today.

“The winds are very light and full concentration is required at all times,” he continues. “We are currently surrounded by Clipper 68s: De Lage Landen, Singapore, Qingdao and Welcome to Yorkshire are all visible on our AIS (Automatic Identification System) and none more than 14nm away from our position.

“We are flying our lightweight spinnaker and full main while trying every trick in the book to squeeze every ounce of speed from our boat. Tonight the winds are very fickle indeed and it is also very dark making helming even more difficult. Due to wind shifts and tactics we have already performed two spinnaker gybes in the last four hours and will probably carry out a third before daybreak.

“We are currently operating under our cloak of invisibility for 24 hours and are doing all we can to outfox the competition. It is strange to be in Stealth Mode and to see the odd flicker of tri-colour lights dotted randomly around our horizon. We should also be within reach of the Scoring Gate later today – providing what little wind we have stays with us – and it is clear that it is going to go right down to the wire!”

In long distance ocean racing, where the teams are at the mercy of Mother Nature, nothing is ever a foregone conclusion. One thing is certain, however: with 2,300 miles still to cover in the race from Oakland to Panama, it’s still all to play for.

Extreme Sailing Series – Act 2 Qingdao: The Wave, Muscat extends its lead on the penultimate day

April 19, 2012

The Wave Muscat, extends its lead going into the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series – Act 2 Qingdao. Ian Williams and his crew also had an excellent day, moving from 5th overall yesterday to 3rd, increasing the hopes of the team to get onto the podium for the first time. Following eight close races on Fushan Bay, only 10 points separate the top 3 boats going into the final day of Act 2.

Action onboard GAC Pindar on day 3 - Photo lloyds Images

Action onboard GAC Pindar on day 3 - Photo lloyds Images

On the first day of racing in Qingdao, The Wave, Muscat’s Leigh McMillan said the team were ‘scratching their heads’ as they tried to figure out the tricky conditions – and today it certainly seem like they had it sussed, coming out all guns blazing to win the opening two races, leaving them tied on points with Red Bull Sailing Team. It was a game of cat and mouse between Austria and Oman for the first five races with Red Bull Sailing Team temporarily regaining control in race 18, but in the next race The Wave, Muscat overhauled them, putting an end to their reign at the top of the leaderboard.

Close racing on day 3 in Qingdao - Photo credit Lloyds Images.

Close racing on day 3 in Qingdao - Photo credit Lloyds Images

A frustrated, but still optimistic, Hagara said: “It was not our best day, we had some really bad starts and it was really hard picking the right shifts and gusts on the racecourse so we made a lot of mistakes. But it’s good that we’re still in there and tomorrow it’s a big day. We try to be up until the last race and then we’ll see who is going to win.  Everybody has their ups and downs, and we had our ‘down’ today so, hopefully, we’ll have our ‘up’ tomorrow!”

Going into the final race of the day, The Wave, Muscat had an unassailable lead but only have a slender point advantage going into the final day: “It is very close for the top 4 or 5 so anyone can take it. 10-12 points doesn´t mean anything in this kind of racing. If we sail well we will have the chance to win so that´s what we need to do,” said McMillan.

Fleet racing in Qingdao day 3 - Photo Lloyds Images

Fleet racing in Qingdao day 3 - Photo Lloyds Images

Series favourite Pierre Pennec (no doubt cursing his ‘Form Guide’ accolade) and his all French team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild looked like they were on form for the opening two races today but it quickly turned nasty when they got stuck on a mark and had to watch the rest of the fleet sail on. Things didn’t improve much for the team in the next race, who were penalized for a false start leaving them lagging in eighth place. A win in the final race provided some consolation for Pennec, who also celebrated his birthday today, but not much as the team slip a place to fifth overall – 1 point shy of Oman Air.

At the other end of the fleet, the two new teams on the start line China Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team have struggled against the more experienced Extreme 40s, and are in 9th and 8th respectively. Alinghi are 10 points clear of SAP Extreme Sailing Team but will have a hard task to catch 6th placed Loick Peyron on ZouLou who sailed consistently at the top end of the fleet today and hold a 12 point lead over the Swiss.

Onboard action from SAP Extreme Sailing Team - Image credit Lloyds

Onboard action from SAP Extreme Sailing Team - Image credit Lloyds

The city of Qingdao has undertaken a huge marketing campaign around the event with billboards lining the streets from the airport to port.  Today Qingdao TV broadcast the race coverage live which in turn was syndicating to 11 other channels, including the hugely popular Beijing TV.

The official Series weather forecasters, WetterWelt, has forecasted light winds and a risk of fog tomorrow, meaning the teams will have to be slick in their tactics to make gains on the racecourse. There are plenty of points still to play for and the all important double-points final race decider, giving plenty of opportunities for the teams to make their final bid for victory.

Onboard with The Wave, Muscat's Leigh McMillan - Photo credit Lloyds

Onboard with The Wave, Muscat's Leigh McMillan - Photo credit Lloyds

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China standings after Day 3, 22 races (19.4.12)
Position / Team / Points

1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 190 points

2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 131 points

3rd GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 129 points

4th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 125 points

5th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 125 points

6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 115 points

7th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand / Tanguy Cariou / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / Charles Favre 93 points

8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Christian Kamp / Jonas Hviid 83 points

9th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson / Garth Ellingham / Kit Cheng / Nick Catley / Xiaqun Song 50 points

43m Holland Jachtbouw charter yacht THIS IS US (ex Skylge) – winner of the 2012 St Barth´s Bucket

April 19, 2012

Coming first overall both in the regatta and in her Elegantes class the 43m Holland Jachtbouw sailing yacht THIS IS US (ex Skylge) demonstrated her excellent performance at the 2012 St Bart’s Bucket which was held from 22nd – 25th March 2012. With 38 yachts racing, the charter yacht THIS IS US’ Captain Robin Winn reached extraordinary results thanks to the fantastic team effort, keeping out of trouble as well as keeping in clean air.

Holland Jachtbouw luxury charter yacht THIS IS US under sail

Holland Jachtbouw luxury charter yacht THIS IS US under sail

With the helmsmanship of her veteran guest skipper Patrick Wetter along with navigator & tactician Nick Lykiardopulo and a well-run and motivated crew the luxury yacht THIS IS US warmed up with a respectable 5th place in the race 1 Around the Island, where the conditions were a little damp and a tear to the spinnaker foot slowed progress but this was quickly repaired for the following races.

Holland Jachtbouw superyacht THIS IS US, still aiming for a class win, then exceeded expectations, picking up to pace to sweep to victory in the Not so wiggly race 2 and Wrong way round race 3, bringing home an overall 1st not just in class and a glittering array of silverware and crystal as well as a beautiful barometer.

This Is Us superyacht - view from above

This Is Us superyacht - view from above

The spectacular charter yacht THIS IS US (ex Skylge) will be competing again with her Owners at the Superyacht Cup in Palma in June but charter can be booked in and around this for those wishing to enjoy her cruising onboard.

THIS IS US was launched in 2005 and refitted 2011 with her carbon spars, sophisticated rigging and modern underwater shape she has been designed and built with cruising performance in mind.

Luxurious interior aboard the superyacht This Is Us (ex Skylge)

Luxurious interior aboard the superyacht This Is Us (ex Skylge)

Designed by André Hoek, the THIS IS US yacht has slim low-freeboard lines, long overhangs and a modest pilothouse. Her sail plan follows the trend for high-aspect mainsails and roached foresails, while a lifting keel offers access to shallow waters without compromising performance.

THIS IS IS has also been optimized for family sailing and was built to the MCA commercial code to enable her to charter. She has an ideal layout for charter, with an owners’ stateroom, VIP suite, two guest cabins and generous amounts of deck space.

43m sailing yacht This Is Us Cabin

43m sailing yacht This Is Us Cabin

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team with a new TP 52 yacht prepared for the 2012 PalmaVela

April 19, 2012

The Audi Azzurra Sailing Team starts its 2012 racing season with the tune-up event for the TP52 class, the Mapfre PalmaVela. Developed by designer Marcelino Botin, the new Azzurra yacht, owned, like the previous one, by Alberto Roemmers, member of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, was constructed at the King Marine boatyard in Valencia, under the supervision of project manager Miguel Costa.

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team with a new TP 52 yacht prepared for the 2012 PalmaVela

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team - Photo by AZZURRA/JRENEDO

Last season’s crew will be once again onboard, with the addition of pitman David Vera and Juan Pablo Marcos as mid-bow. Skipper Guillermo Parada will be at the helm, while the afterguard will be completed with Vasco Vascotto, Checco Bruni and Bruno Zirilli. The team was reunited in Palma de Mallorca already at the beginning of the week in order to carry out the first tests on the new yacht.

Starting today, the Azzurra TP52 yacht by Audi will battle against Quantum, Ran and Gladiator in view of the season’s first official event, the Trofeo Conde de Godò in Barcelona. The weather forecast on the opening day calls for a mainly westerly – northwesterly fresh breeze, blowing at around 20 knots.

Barcelona, Trofeo Conde de Godò                      May 23rd – 27th
Porto Cervo, Audi Sardinia Cup                          June 11th – 17th
Palma de Mallorca, Royal Cup                              July 11th – 14th
Palma de Mallorca, Copa del Rey                        July 16th – 21st (IRC scoring)
Valencia Cup                                                               September 18th – 22nd

Guillermo Parada – Skipper and Helmsman
Vasco Vascotto – Tactician
Bruno Zirilli – Navigator
Paul Westlake – Mainsail
Mariano Caputo – Bowman
Juan Pablo Marcos –  Midbow
David Vera – Pitman
Maciel Cichetti – Trimmer
Mariano Parada – Strategist
Simon Fry – Trimmer
Gabriel Marino – Grinder
Alejandro Colla – Grinder

Boat Captain: Pedro Rossi

Owner: Alberto Roemmers

Extreme Sailing Series – Exciting Wednesday in Qingdao at Halfway Stage of Act 2

April 18, 2012

To excite the Chinese public at the Halfway Stage of Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing SeriesWednesday’s race was filled with close calls, bow-down action and flying hulls. Tricky reaching start line caused a record 11 false starts, with the Red Bull sailing team securing their position at the top of the leader-board.

Oman Air flying a hull, Qingdao day 2 - Image credit Lloyds Images

Oman Air flying a hull, Qingdao day 2 - Image credit Lloyds Images

The Extreme Sailing Series fleet went into stadium sailing mode today and the intensity on the water ramped up a notch, with plenty of close calls, contact between the boats, penalties and an incredible 11 false starts from the 8 races. To the satisfaction of Austrian skipper, Roman Hagara, Red Bull Sailing Team managed to hold onto their lead, but the remainder of the fleet reshuffled the leaderboard at the end of play on day 2. Hagara is not a man to easily show his emotions but he looked visibly pleased when he stepped on to the stage after racing. His widest smile came when the Chinese commentator asked him ‘Why he was so handsome?’! Hagara is a bit of a local hero here in a city that is proud of its Olympic culture, having a double-Olympic gold medallist in their midst is a huge draw.

Racing started in 12 knots of breeze, within the confines of the natural stadium of Fushan Bay, the fleet had to contend with big gusts up to 17 knots funneling through the city skyline making the bear-away turn at the final mark a tense moment. With the 50m run to the finish boxed in either side by concrete, the Extreme 40 crews had to get it right as they hauled out the massive gennaker, bows digging in before sprinting to the finish. Getting it wrong, or fouling another boat coming into the turning mark, would have ended with a visit to the pit-lane for repairs!

Red Bull Sailing Team flying a hull in front of the Olympic rings - Photo Lloyds Images

Red Bull Sailing Team flying a hull in front of the Olympic rings - Photo Lloyds Images

It was all about the nailing the reaching start line today which proved problematic with 6 of the 9 teams being punished for being too eager off the line, putting them at an immediate disadvantage as they fought to claw back places. The Wave, Muscat notched up three false starts – and added another to their tally in the opening race when they mistakenly thought they were over the line. The team managed to hold onto their second place position overall, much to skipper Leigh McMillan’s surprise. “I’ve got no idea how we are where we are! I think we got lucky and had a few gains in a few races… I think we got away with it today. To be in second position is massive shock. I thought the rest of the fleet were long gone, so its good to still be in the mix.”

Red Bull Sailing Team hold onto the top spot at the end of day two despite the efforts of the rest of the fleet – in particular those of Oman Air and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild who managed to make significant in-roads on the Austrian team’s points lead. Although the French team’s mainsail trimmer, Hervé Cunningham, was far from impressed: “The result is good but we made so many mistakes on board and we’ve really got to step up and get the level higher if we want to get a good result here. Roman is one step ahead and his team is one of the best boats on the water for the season, and we’re not going to achieve anything if we keep sailing like this.”

Record breaking round the world sailor Loick Peyron and his French flagged-team ZouLou had their best day since making their Extreme 40 debut in Muscat, consistently sailing at the top end of the fleet with their first race win in race two and three further top three finishes. Their efforts were enough to climb a place on the leaderboard, finishing the day in sixth place.

The local contingent China Team continued to draw in the crowds with 2008

Olympic sailor Yngling Summer Song on board. After frustratingly having to retire from race six to repair a broken gennaker furling line, the team made a sterling effort to come back in race seven to claim their first podium position. Kiwi skipper Phil Robertson was pleased with the team’s performance but looking for improvements: “We were within the top three around the first mark in pretty much every race so the starts were great but from then it didn´t go as well. The conditions were perfect. It´s very difficult and frustrating at times but we are really enjoying the short and fast races.”

 SAP Extreme Sailing Team flying a hull on day 2 in Qingdao - Image credit Lloyds Images

SAP Extreme Sailing Team flying a hull on day 2 in Qingdao - Image credit Lloyds Images

The newest team on the circuit and the Series’ first ever Danish representatives SAP Extreme Sailing Team began to find their feet in the stronger winds, winning their first race in the colours of their newly announced sponsor SAP. Ramus Kostner, one of the team’s two Danish skippers said “In the fourth race we had a really good start on the other guys and we were straight to the first mark in the lead and then just opened up the gap a little bit more. So for the whole race we could just enjoy looking at the fleet from the lead and that was a great feeling!” SAP Extreme Sailing Team climbs a place on the leaderboard to eighth.

As the Extreme 40s go into the penultimate day tomorrow, the teams can expect plenty of more close racing on the short stadium courses as they fight to secure their positions on the leaderboard before the final day. Current event leader Roman Hagara was under no illusions that his position is safe. “All of the teams are really strong contenders – we could see it already in Oman. Due to our experience in Qingdao we could be regarded as the experts in open waters where we were yesterday but not inside the harbour. I think all the teams know what goes on inside the harbour.”

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China standings after Day 2, 14 races (18.4.12)

Position / Team / Points

1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 90 points

2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 83 points

3rd Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 79 points

4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 78 points

5th GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 75 points

6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 72 points

7th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand / Tanguy Cariou / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / Charles Favre 68 points

8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Christian Kamp / Jonas Hviid 50 points

9th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson / Garth Ellingham / Kit Cheng / Nick Catley / Xiaqun Song 34 points

Skippers press conference, Qingdao Act 2 - Image credit Lloyds Images

Skippers press conference, Qingdao Act 2 - Image credit Lloyds Images

Sailor Quotes

Hervé Cunningham, mainsail Groupe Edmond de Rothschild:
“We are pretty happy about the leaderboard and we did improve from yesterday. Yesterday was a really bad day for us and today was better but far from being a good day. The result is good but we made so many mistakes on board and we’ve really got to step up and get the level higher if we want to get a good result here. Roman is one step ahead and his team is one of the best boats on the water for the season, and we’re not going to achieve anything if we keep sailing like this. Two times we missed the start (over the start line) and it’s not acceptable at this level because you are out of the pack. So we have to stay focused, improve tomorrow and Friday, and if we do that we could be in a good position.”

Pierre-Yves Jorand, skipper Alinghi:
“We had some good races and some not so good but I think it was the case for everyone today. The conditions were fantastic here in Qingdao and we did win two races which is good. We have a new crew, a new helmsman so our learning curve is still young so we can definitely improve in the Series. The points are close so the competition is on for the next two days!”

Roman Hagara, Red Bull Sailing Team
“We had a more average day than yesterday but other teams had problems on the race course too especially with these reaching starts as it was difficult to judge time and distance on the line. We had one OCS and we finished last, but we weren´t the only ones. All of the teams are really strong contenders. We could see it already in Oman. Everything is very close together and you have to count in every team. It´s very tricky racing here so we will have to wait until the last day.”

Summer Song, China Team
“We hadn´t realised that we had a problem on the boat, but we managed to fix the furling system and had a good result on the next race when we finished second. I feel really excited as I could help more today than yesterday, helping the crew with the sail changes and around the marks. I hope we carry on working together and better tomorrow.”

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race: Day 5 – De Lage Landen remains in the lead

April 18, 2012

Five days into the race from Oakland to Panama, the ten 68-foot yachts are only 29 miles of distance from the finish line of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, the world’s longest yacht race. They are spread in a line around 140 miles long running from south west to north east.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

De Lage Landen remains in the lead after decision to pass to the east of the island of Guadalupe off the Mexican coast.

“It seems that we were the only boat to sail east of the island of Guadalupe but we emerged with our position intact,” reports skipper, Stuart Jackson. “I decided to continue the shortest course from our inshore position towards the Scoring Gate and, despite concerns about light airs in the lee of the island, we managed to keep our momentum going with the lightweight spinnaker. However, only 22 miles separate the top eight boats in the fleet so I’m sure we will see lots of changing positions.”

Gold Coast Australia has slid down the leader board after the team underestimated the wind shadow in the lee of the island.

“The decision was made to take the western side after the wind picked up after sunset last night and the boat felt a bit too loaded up steering the angles required to pass the island to the east,” says Richard Hewson.

“At sunrise Guadalupe loomed in the sea mist and cloud and as the day warmed up we got a good look at the rugged, mountainous island as we sailed 15nm along its western coast. After we passed south of the island a tactical error was made when we thought we were out of the lee of the island. As a result the wind dropped from the 18 knots that the rest of the fleet was sailing in to ten knots. To add to the error the wind backed, leaving us no choice but to sail to the east.

“The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to sail out of the lee of the island, losing many miles to the other leading yachts. Finally at sunset the wind picked back up and veered to its predicted direction and we are sailing well, trying to make up lost ground.

“At the moment the fleet is very close and we can see five other yachts in our vicinity giving us good motivation to sail well throughout the night as we set ourselves up for the next light wind phase of the race.”

While Gold Coast Australia battles to get back into a podium position as the distances between the yachts get smaller, Derry-Londonderry’s crew have been enjoying the “magical conditions” and working their way into second place.

“We had been flying our medium kite, ‘Jack’ (the ripper), all day before the wind finally started to decrease once we passed the Isla de Guadalupe. This happened just as the sun was setting and we performed a textbook spinnaker peel down to our lightweight kite. A spinnaker peel is probably the most advanced sailing evolution there is and it is great to see an evolution with such a high capacity for error being executed precisely and quickly. It has also given us the chance to carry out a few running repairs, patching a couple of small holes in ‘Jack’ and repairing a spinnaker guy.

“We have managed to force our way up into second place and feel that we are in a great position to push and challenge for top spot. But with the wind decreasing as we push ever south we may need a little bit of luck from the wind gods themselves.”

The wind is likely to ease off today and bring light conditions to the fleet for the next 36 to 48 hours before filling in again. The trick will be to find the corridors of breeze to maintain momentum towards the finish line and each of the teams’ tacticians believe they know where best to find it – from De Lage Landen in the east to Edinburgh Inspiring Capital furthest to the west, where they may well find the breeze holds up for longer.

Rupert Dean, the skipper of Welcome to Yorkshire, comments on the varying tactics of the other yachts which, he says, are split into three groups.

“Today it is the west that has done the best, followed by De Lage Landen in the east, in terms of miles sailed towards the finish. This is because there appears to be a little more of a pressure gradient here compared to the centre. Much of this is due to the proximity of Guadalupe and which, although small, is mountainous and has its own wind shadow to the south south east. This particularly affected Gold Coast Australia which has been racing in sight of us. This morning she ‘hardened up’ on port gybe, sailing into this windless zone, before gybing back onto starboard to fall behind us this afternoon. Since then, we’ve both been heading south east on port, heading for the Scoring Gate with what little wind we have.

“Meanwhile on deck, we’ve been sailing under clear sunny and starry skies. Temperatures continue to rise and this evening we saw the most amazing meteor burst through the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter how many years one spends at sea, for Mother Nature still has the capacity to surprise.”

Singapore continues to pursue a central course among the fleet and is neck and neck with New York.

“Another excellent day on the water punctuated by several kite evolutions to keep everyone just busy enough,” reports Ben Bowley. “Although we have been sailing now for only a few days it feels like weeks and everyone has settled nicely into the routine of life aboard. We have positioned ourselves well for our run into the Scoring Gate and now hope that we can keep in the slightly stronger band of wind out west long enough to pull some ground in on our rivals. A special well done today to our nipper, James Thomas, for spending over an hour up the rig today with an angry kite nipping at his heels to sort out our top spreader end cap protection. Fingers crossed the wind holds for long enough for us to make it to the gate before dying out completely!”

That is the fervent hope of Gareth Glover and his team. The skipper of the American entry says, “The north westerly winds keep us heading south towards the Scoring Gate and, as we sailed past Guadalupe, Singapore passed half a mile behind us on starboard gybe. We had a good chat on the VHF and went on our way. Just as we got to the south of the island Visit Finland came into view as they gybed over in front of us. There is still over 300nm to go until we get to the Scoring Gate and we must try to keep New York moving in the light airs to come in the next few days.

“This morning we wrapped the medium weight kite around the forestay as we were trying to sail too deep downwind. One of the crew had to go to the end of the pole to it sort out and a new kite was back up in less than 20 minutes.”

Yesterday Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s crew had a few issues as they tried to be a little too hasty in their desire to beat the other teams. Today it is the turn of Qingdao, who decided to stay offshore to avoid any wind shadows around Guadalupe. How many of us have been in the situation where a minor error leads to a bigger mistake and another one and before you know it, the only way out is to stop and start all over again?

Ian Conchie describes what happened when a spinnaker evolution started badly and just got worse.

“All was going well until at sunset the wind picked up a little bit. To look after our medium weight kite I decided to change to the heavy, even though I thought the wind would only last a short while. The first drop went fine but as we hoisted the heavyweight kite we realised it had been packed wrongly so we had to drop it quickly. During the drop it went into the sea so we had to let the halyard go and stop the boat to recover it, but we managed to do this quickly so the sail wasn’t damaged. We did manage to bend a stanchion post though. (There goes our perfect maintenance budget I fear.)

“We quickly repacked it and hoisted it again, only to get the halyards tangled, but we were able to fly it while we sorted out the boat and, two hours after we started it all, we smoothly changed back to the medium weight! All in all hard work but hopefully we didn’t lose much time to the other boats.”

Visit Finland’s crew have been dealing with spinnaker issues of their own and the old Clipper Training mantra ‘Chafe is the enemy’ is coming back to haunt them.

Olly Osborne explains, “Things have not been altogether ideal for us during the last 24 hours having suffered from a series of problems with our spinnaker gear which forced us to drop our spinnaker for some time whilst we made repairs to sails and running rigging. The continual downwind sailing puts a lot of strain on the ropes and poles and it is very surprising how quickly they can chafe through.”

Meanwhile Geraldton Western Australia’s sail repairer has been pressed into action after they spotted a rip in their lightweight spinnaker.

“A small tear was noticed in the light weight kite, so a change to the medium was required – followed-on by a gybe. Taking the long way around the Isla de Guadalupe has been our strategy today as we thought the wind may have been lighter around the island,” says Juan Coetzer.

“Everyone on board is doing really well, contributing to our boat’s speed and success in some way.”

Stuart Jackson concludes, “It has been a pretty perfect day on board with beautiful sunshine by day and an awesome light show by night. We are still being accompanied by scores of dolphins, we were treated to fresh tuna for dinner, and after more than 30,000 miles of racing we discovered one of our crew could bake excellent Belgian chocolate cake.”

The Clipper Race crews never fail to surprise with their hidden talents. People from all walks of life and more than 40 countries have signed up to the challenge of a lifetime, pushing their mental and physical boundaries further than they ever thought possible.

Who thinks to have what it takes to become a Clipper Race crew member, berths are available now for Clipper 13-14, the ninth edition of the event which will see the introduction of a brand new 12-strong fleet of 70-foot yachts.

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2: Austria´s Red Bull Sailing Team in lead

April 18, 2012

Thousands of people gathered to the breakwater to cheer on the Extreme 40s in action on the first day of competing of the Act 2 in the Extreme Sailing Series yacht race. The most supported team was China Team making its Extreme 40 debut and with two men-overboard incidents, the action was in full swing.

Extreme Sailing Series 2012, ESS, EX40, Multihull, Qingdao, China

Extreme Sailing Series 2012, ESS, EX40, Multihull, Qingdao, China Credit: Lloyd Images

But it was the Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team skippered by Roman Hagara with his Olympic partner, Hans Peter Steinacher as tactician, who used their knowledge of the Olympic waters to edge ahead and top the leaderboard by the end of play on day 1.

Six open-water races were staged yesterday, which saw four different race winners. Racing took place just outside of the breakwater, close enough for the public to follow the action, during a light breeze day, which required shrewd tactics from the sailors, as Roman Hagara explained: “It was difficult because of the light winds and their was a lot of tide so it was fairly unpredictable out there. If you were in a good position on the start line then you would do well. By the end of the day the wind had picked up and we could get the hull out of the water.”

The Extreme 40 fleet racing in front of the impressive skyline in Fushan Bay, Qingdao Credit: OC Thirdpole

The Extreme 40 fleet racing in front of the impressive skyline in Fushan Bay, Qingdao Credit: OC Thirdpole

The battle at the top of the leaderboard was supremely close between Red Bull Sailing Team, The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar. The British crew led by match-racing supremo Ian Williams on GAC Pindar made an early bid for the leaderboard, claiming the first race win of the Act, but Leigh McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat were waiting to pounce, claiming victory in the following two races.

McMillan went on to win an impressive third race in race five of the day, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Hagara’s men: “It was a really good day for us – we are happy with the result,” said McMillan. “Red Bull had an outstanding day and even when we were winning races they were right behind us so it was very difficult for us to get away from them.”

Act 2 Qingdao opening ceromony

Act 2 Qingdao opening ceromony Credit: Lloyd Images

China Team displayed moments of real potential, including a fourth place in the second race of the day, which considering the crew only stepped on to race for the first time today shows the calibre of these professionals. However, two separate incidents show how quickly even the pros can get caught out as skipper Phil Robertson explained, “We loved it! There are a lot of positives we can take out of today and we are very happy with how we ended up – although a couple of us went swimming which wasn’t ideal. We were having our best race and were coming into the last mark when we lost Nick (Catley) our bowman over board. That was a shocker! Second time round…it was me and that was before the race even started,” admitted a rather sheepish Robertson. “I was trying to fix some rudder issues and I fell off the back with a minute to go. So it was a disappointing end but we are happy.”

Oman Air struggled to find their impressive form from Act 1 in Muscat, which saw them claim victory on their home turf just six weeks ago: “We were under no illusion that Qingdao would be easy just because we won the first event,” stated a philosophical Morgan Larson. A late comeback in the final race and a race win leaves the team in fifth place, four points shy of the French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, who also had a mixed day on the water. With plenty of races still to come, the teams will be assessing their performance on the water today and planning how to attack or defend as Act 2 goes into stadium race mode from tomorrow. In a similar scenario to Act 1, Muscat, both Hagara and Williams excelled in the early phase only to fade away to the dominance of Larson’s Oman Air team and the Series favourites on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.

Chinese school children enjoying the racing on the first day in Qingdao

Chinese school children enjoying the racing on the first day in Qingdao Credit: Lloyd Images

The event was officially inaugurated tonight at the grand opening ceremony, hosted by the Qingdao Yachting Association (QDYA). The show began with a stunning light show and music, with local performers enacting traditional Chinese dances. Each crew member bearing their national flag was presented to the crowds, as they presented a gift to their hosts. The ceremony took place at Octagonal Square within the Olympic village, with over 2,000 local guests gathering to witness the spectacle. The show culminated with a spectacular fireworks show.

Today is the first of three public days with even more locals expected to descend on the Olympic village to watch the stadium racing that will be staged inside the breakwater of Fushan Bay. Racing starts at 1300 local time and for the fans not here in Qingdao, a LIVE REPLAY of the race coverage is available on the official event website from 1330 CET.

Pete Greenhalgh and Hashim Al Rashdi in action on board The Wave, Muscat

Pete Greenhalgh and Hashim Al Rashdi in action on board The Wave, Muscat Credit: Lloyd Images

Extreme Magazine available online
The 2012 Extreme Magazine, the official companion to the Series is now available online. One can take a look behind the scenes at the Extreme Sailing Series that has redefined yacht racing, and meet the men behind the machines. The magazine includes insightful and entertaining features by leading sailing and sports journalists including BBC Sport’s Rob Hodgetts, Justin Chisholm editor of Sail Race Magazine, DailySail editor James Boyd and David Fuller from yacht racing combined with fantastic action pix from Mark Lloyd.

Red Bull Sailing Team flying a hull in front of spectators lining the breakwater in Fushan Bay, Qingdao

Red Bull Sailing Team flying a hull in front of spectators lining the breakwater in Fushan Bay, Qingdao Credit: Lloyd Images

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China standings after Day 1, 6 races (17.4.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 47 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hashim Al Rashdi, Rachel Williamson 44 points
3rd GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams, Mark Ivey, Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot, Andrew Walsh 37 points
4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec, Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Hervé Cunningham, Bernard Labro, Romain Petit 32 points
5th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Will Howden, Charlie Ogletree, Nasser Al Mashari, Max Bulger 28 points
6th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand, Tanguy Cariou, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey, Charles Favre 26 points
7th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron, Philippe Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Bruno Jeanjean, Patrick Aucour 24 points
8th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Kit Cheng, Nick Catley, Xiaqun Song 18 points
9th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Kostner, Pete Cumming, Christian Kamp, Jonas Hviid 14 points

Xiaqun Song on board China Team

Xiaqun Song on board China Team Credit: Lloyd Images

Quotes from sailors:
Morgan Larson, Oman Air skipper
“We were under no illusion that Qingdao would be easy just because we won the first event. We have to go back to our original goals and if we can end on the podium then that is fantastic but we are certainly aiming for top half of the fleet.”

Loick Peyron, ZouLou skipper
“I have come straight from Naples (AC45) and it is very interesting to be back in the Extreme 40 – it is a different game and it is good to fight against these guys. We have a lot to improve on the starts especially. It could have been a better day for us, it could have been worse. We are in the middle of the pack and looking for better.”

Roman Hagara, Red Bull Sailing Team skipper

“It was really close against The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar. In the first few races the three teams were always top three and it was really important to be consistent. We had no race worse then third and I think the others they may have had one bad race so in the end its what counted. We are very happy at the end of today.”